KHN Morning Briefing

Summaries of health policy coverage from major news organizations

Roadblocks Continue Despite Efforts To Address Causes of Hospital Readmissions

News outlets also report on how Medicare's efforts to curb readmissions have led to innovations.

The Associated Press/Washington Post: Medicare Crackdown Spurs Innovative Fixes To Slow Hospital Readmissions Epidemic
Hospital readmissions are miserable for patients, and a huge cost -- more than $17 billion a year in avoidable Medicare bills alone -- for a nation struggling with the price of health care. Now, with Medicare fining facilities that don't reduce readmissions enough, the nation is at a crossroads as hospitals begin to take action (2/11).

The Associated Press/Washington Post: Aging America: Myriad Roadblocks To Recovery Fuel Hospital Readmissions, Geography A Factor
More than 1 million Americans wind up back in the hospital only weeks after they left for reasons that could have been prevented -- a revolving door that for years has seemed impossible to slow (2/10).

Bloomberg: Boomerang Patients To Penalize Hospitals Under U.S. Law
Tenet Healthcare Corp., the third-largest U.S. hospital chain, keeps an eye on Medicare patients after they're released. This isn't just about professional integrity. Tenet has a financial stake in their well-being. Fines are being levied against hospitals with high rates of patient readmissions under a provision of the Affordable Care Act targeting $8 billion in Medicare cost savings within six years (Armour, 2/11).

In related news --

Los Angeles Times: A Delicate New Balancing Act In Senior Health Care
Frail seniors like Gordon account for a disproportionate share of health care expenditures because they are frequently hospitalized and often land in intensive care units or are readmitted soon after being released. Now the federal health reform law is driving sweeping changes in how hospitals treat a rapidly growing number of elderly patients (Gorman, 2/9).

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